Based in Rothbury, Spirit Buses provided daily scheduled bus services between Upper Coquetdale and Alnwick, Northumberland. A regular entrant to Bus and Coach Buyer’s Photo Friday, it was founded in 2013 by Director Steve Hurst. The company’s services are to pass over to PCL Travel, trading as Rural Link.
The operator had a special destination display notifying it was its last day of service, complete with a sad face emoji. A number of Tweets were made in support of Spirit Buses during its last day, including one from Reading Buses CEO, Martijn Gilbert, who rode on the buses on the last day. He said, ‘An excellent day out with @BusAndTrainUser and @creatingdesire on the last day of @SpiritBuses. Steve and his team will clearly be missed.’
In September this year, Spirit Buses issued an update on its website saying its services will remain unchanged until 5 November 2016. It said that after this date, it is to look at ‘various options to continue these vital lifeline services for the communities we serve’. Its 15, 16 and 406 routes were run on a commercial basis, with de minimis support from Northumberland County Council with support from Support our Services (SoS) donations via tickets bought on the bus, online payments or fund raising events. The statement said, ‘All of these combined have allowed us to complete our second year of operation and evaluate the sustainability of all our routes.’ It said that over the past two years since the statement was issued, it has carried over 50,000 passengers across its network.
Spirit Buses heavily relied on inward connections at Rothbury from Newcastle and Morpeth via Arriva’s X14. In September, the County Council re-awarded Arriva the contract to run this service, but the operator’s reduced timetable on this route did not fit around any of its existing connections. As such, it was unable to create a ‘viable alternate timetable’.